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How to Teach English Abroad & Where You Can Do It

June 5, 2017
Long Term Traveling

Year after year, thousands of people travel overseas to teach English abroad. Whether they are doing it to learn about different cultures, increase their teaching experience, live abroad, or to simply make money, there are plenty of great reasons to teach English abroad. While teaching English abroad may not make you a billionaire, there are plenty of places that pay their teachers well and even provide housing. Often, the cost of living is lower in these areas than in the United States so don't be surprised if you are saving money, too! 

teach english korea

Preparing Before You Go

Get TEFL Certified - This isn't required in all destinations but having this certification will allow you to teach in a wide variety of countries. It can also help to put you ahead of your competition with this under your belt. You can get these done in class or online.

Understand your Visa Situation - Do you research! Some places have fairly relaxed requirements in obtaining a work visa but other places not so much. It also depends on your country of origin. Pick a few places that you would be interested and look at the requirements.

Secure some savings - Make sure you can afford your plane ticket (obviously) and set aside some funds for an emergency flight home just in case. You are going to be paid for this opportunity but you may find yourself stressed during the time between paychecks. Set aside some funds to take care of your immediate expenses before your first paycheck comes in.

teach english europe

Getting TEFL, TESL, TESOL Certified

What is the difference between TEFL and TESOL? 

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This refers to teaching in areas where English is not a primary language. This is the most widely recognized certification in places where English is not the native language.

TESL: This refers to teaching English to non-native speakers living in a country that uses English.

TESOL: This refers to the broader base of teaching English to native and non native speakers.

The difference between these is the people who you will be teaching and the location. TEFL is the most widely accepted certification.

tefl certification

These courses are offered in both online and in-class formats. The online courses can run a few hundred dollars while the in-class courses can run up to the thousands. Whichever route you choose, know that many places require 100 hours, though many will favor your application if you have 120+.


Premier TEFL

Premier TEFL offers a range of courses varying in length and have sales quite often (during some sales periods the 120 hour course is $100-$200). You will get career advice and an internationally recognized certificate. 

International TEFL Academy

Classes are offered both online and in person. They offer tutoring and career advice as well. You will receive an internationally recognized certificate

There are also places you can get your certificate in the US or abroad. You have to find the right kind of class for you!

teach english china

Where Can I Teach English?

English teachers are sought all over the world but you should expect different accommodations and lifestyles with each location.

Locations & if you will be spending or saving:


Gulf Arab States (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain): $1,500-$5,000 a month

Average Cost of Living: $1,200 - $1,900 a month

Requirements: TEFL, Bachelor's degree, experience

Typical Benefits: Housing, long term contracts

Save or Spend: SAVE

Japan: $2,000 a month + housing

Cost of living: $1,000 a month

Required: TEFL certificate, bachelor's preferred

Typical Benefits: Housing, visa assistance

Save or Spend: SAVE

teach english japan

South Korea: $2,500 a month + housing

Cost of living: $1,100 USD / month (rent is usually covered)

Required: TEFL certificate required, bachelor's degree preferred

Typical Benefits: Housing, visa assistance, health insurance, bonuses

Save or Spend: SAVE

Vietnam: $2,000 a month

TEFL required, bachelor's preferred, no experience necessary

teach english south korea

China: $2,000 a month + housing (typically)

Requirements: Bachelor's degree preferred

Cost of Living: $1,000 per month 

Typical Benefits: Free housing, health insurance

Save or Spend: SAVE

Colombia: About $2,000 a month (Take home ~$700 a month)

Requirements: TEFL certificate

Cost of Living: $500-$1,000 per month 

Typical Benefits: Free housing, health insurance

Save or Spend: SAVE

teach english south america

‍Taiwan: $2,000 a month

Cost of living: $950 a month

Required: TEFL and bachelor's degree preferred

Typical Benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SAVE

Thailand: $1,000-$1,500 a month

Requirements: TEFL

Average Cost of Living: $450 - 1,300 a month

Typical Benefits: bonuses

Save or Spend: SAVE

teach english thailand


Myanmar (Burma): $1,500-$2,000 a month

Cost of living: $1,200 (not typically covered in contract)

Required: TEFL certificate. Many of these opportunities are volunteer based.

Typical Benefits: Unknown

Save or Spend: SPEND

Nicaragua, Guatemala: $300-$600 a month

Cost of living: $300-$600 a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical Benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SPEND

teach english latin america

Chile, Costa Rica: $700-$1,200

Cost of living: $700-$1,200 a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical Benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SPEND

Brazil: $1,400 - $1,600

Cost of living: $1,400-$1,600

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SPEND

teach english in europe

Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia: $400-$850 a month

Cost of living: $400-$850 a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SPEND

Belgium, France, Germany, Italy: $1,000 -$2,500

Cost of living: $1,400-$2,000  a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical benefits: Visa assistance

Save or Spend: SPEND

teach english spain

Spain, Portugal: $1,150-$1,650 a month

Cost of living: $1,150-$1,650  a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical benefits: Visa assistance, housing

Save or Spend: SPEND

Czechia, Poland: $700-$1,100 a month

Cost of living: $700-$1,100  a month

Requirements: TEFL, bachelor's preferred

Typical benefits: Worker's permit

Save or Spend: SPEND

If you see your dream country on the SPEND list, don't be dismayed! As an English teacher, you can also take side tutoring gigs to earn some extra money, or even pick up a part time job or freelancing. There is always a way to make your dream work! 

how to teach english abroad
Siggi Einarson

My name is Siggi-dubbed by my American friends because of the Icelandic yogurt-I am a writer, polyglot, and aspiring expat, not a cup of yogurt (unfortunately).

My love for travelling began with a trip to Iceland and Sweden to visit my family when I was just 15 years old. I spent so long dreaming of the possibilities of life abroad but I always figured these dreams were too far reached. Flash forward almost 10 years, here I am again, both cursing and thanking this damn travel bug.

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